April 02, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the new No. 1 and what else lands where; plus NCAA Final Two and my bracket, your verdict on Marlins expectations (ouch), me in APSE column-writing, Miley Cyrus spanked by Easter Bunny & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Easter1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 2. Welcome, April. Hope all you Christians had a Happy Easter! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day expectations poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

APSE contest: We finished in Top 5: The Associated Press Sports Editors annual writing contest that had placed me in the top 10 for national columnists this month in the major-outlet category revealed the exact order on Friday and I ended up No. 5. Congrats to the winner, Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star. And thanks to APSE. I'm pleased by the top-five recognition. (A list of our nominated columns that earned that honor may be found below).

Latest columns: Marlins' Opening Day, NCAA Final Four, Dolphins, Wayne Huizenga: On baseball Opening Day: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing and Marlins 2018: Accentuating The Positives (Sort Of)  /  On NCAA Final Four: Centenarian vs. Nonagenarian and Larranaga On Being Cinderella  /  On Fins: Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason  /  And on passing of South Florida sports and civic giant: Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARCH MADNESS: It's Villanova-Michigan for NCAA men's title: 'Nova crushed Kansas while Michigan ended the dream of Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean in Saturday's Final Four, setting up a heavyweight championship match tonight that finds Villanova the biggest title-game favorite since 2010. On the women's side, Notre Dame beat Mississippi State for the crown Sunday as 'Anybody But UConn' prayers were answered.

2. MARLINS: MLB underway as Jeter presents his Fire-Sale Fish: Marlins finished a credible 2-2 vs. Cubs in season-opening series now welcome Red Sox to town for a pair. Marlins gave up a home run on the very first pitch of the season, while Giancarlo Stanton was homering on his very first swing as a Yankee. Poetic justice? Meantime "Marlins Man" is shopping himself to other teams, as if anybody on the face of the Earth gives a s--- other than Marlins Man.

3. TENNIS: Championship Weekend as Miami Open leaves Key Biscayne: John Isner beat Alexander Zverev for the men's title Sunday one day after Fort Lauderdale's Sloane Stephens defeated Jelena Ostapenko, completing the first U.S. sweep of the event since 2004. It was a star-shy, low-watt weekend to end the tournament's long history on Key Biscayne before next year's move to Hard Rock Stadium. The crowd jeered during Saturday's post-match ceremony when tourney director James Blake mentioned the move. Good.

4. PANTHERS: Playoffs now seem a longshot for Cats: There is a phrase for the Panthers' playoff hopes now: Thin ice. An ill-timed third straight loss on Saturday has Florida now seven points off playoff pace with two games in hand, a lot of ground to make up with only five games to play starting Monday here vs. Carolina. Even a strong finish won't be enough unless 8th place New Jersey ends in a tailspin.

5. HEAT: Whiteside gripes as Miami waits to clinch: Hassan Whiteside went petty after Saturday's home OT loss to Brooklyn, calling it "bulls---" that he was benched when Nets went small. Miami now sits in 7th place (via a tiebreaker) and still needs one more win or a Detroit loss to clinch playoff spot. They'll make it, but the idea, with five games left, is to stay above 8th to avoid top-seed Toronto in the first round. Aside to Hassan: As your team fights down the stretch, not a great time to make it all about you, big fella.

6. GOLF: All eyes on Tiger as Masters nears: The year's first golf major -- The Masters at Augusta -- begins this Thursday, and it will be the first major first step to gauge Tiger Woods' comeback and return to full health. "I got a second chance on life," Tiger said this week. "I am a walking miracle." Woods has won the Masters four times but not since 2005. A fifth would send weekend TV through the roof, were there roofs over golf courses.  

7. HORSE RACING: Audible wins the Florida Derby: Audible won the Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, assuring he'll be among favorites in the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Audible will take a four-race winning streak into Triple Crown season, and the previous two Florida Derby winners (Always Dreaming in 2017 and Nyquist in '16) have gone on to win at Churchill Downs. No pressure anything, Audible!

8. DOLPHINS: Let the NFL Draft countdown begin!: April now, draft month, 24 days 'til the first round. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft for ESPN has the Big Four quarterbacks going 1-2-3-5 and then also 15th (Lamar Jackson). Alas, Kiper has the Dolphins, picking No. 11, taking Florida State safety Derwin James. Pfffft

9. SOCCER: Champions League quarterfinals on deck: The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are April 3-11. The first of eight matches are Tuesday with Sevilla vs. Bayern and Juventus vs. Real Madrid. No middle ground. You are either excited, or could not possibly care less.

10. HURRICANES: Football spring practice at midpoint: Mark Richt's Canes are halfway though spring practice, with the Spring Game coming up April 14. UM football gets the nod because, unfortunately, Jim Morris' baseball Canes continue to slog around at 12-15 after being swept on Sunday at Georgia Tech.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Angels' two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Sunday became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to start as a non-pitcher on Opening Day and then start as a pitcher within his team's first 10 games. Talk about a showoff! ..... Answer: I just saw that the UM men's tennis team is ranked 46th in the nation. Question: Do you think maybe they 're ranking too many teams? ..... NFL league meetings ended in Orlando with an apparent agreement on what constitutes a catch. Progress! ..... Ex-NBA stars Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Grant Hill head the 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class. Inductees also include Maurice Cheeks. No, seriously.

Ncaaff DickvitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: LET'S GO VILLANOVA!: We're updating you on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand in 19th place entering Monday night's championship game in San Antonio:

Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday: No. 3 Michigan rallying to beat No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and then No. 1 Villanova crushing No. 1 Kansas. I had no teams in the first game and both in the second, with Villanova winning it all. Hoping a 'Nova win Monday can get me in the pool's final top 10 or close to it.

Elite Eight -- Last Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. Alas I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See earlier blogposts for our results preceding the Elite Eight round]

JeterPOLL RESULTS: YOUR OUTLOOK FOR MARLINS? NOT PRETTY: We asked in a blog poll this week, "What is the most likely/reasonable expectation for the 2018 Miami Marlins?" and gave you six choices. The results: 38.3 percent said 59-or-fewer wins; 27.5% said 60-64 wins; 15.8% said 65-69 wins; 10.8% said 70-74 wins; 4.2% said 80-plus wins; and 3.3% said 75-79 wins. That's 81.7% who don't see Miami reaching 70 wins. Ouch. In a separate Twitter poll, we you what would end up as the bigger number: Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge's combined home runs for the Yankees? Or Marlins season losses? More than 2,000 voted, and it was 56% for Marlins losses as the larger number. Ouch II.

Mileybunny"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK, but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of Miley Cyrus being spanked by the Easter Bunny. I feel that would be especially appropriate now, with Easter coming up on Sunday. Thank you." Dear Reader: That's a lot to ask, but I'll see what I can do. (Click on image to see enlarged version. Imagine. You're a professional mall Easter Bunny guy ready for his annual weekend posing with 5-year-olds, and a rep for Miley Cyrus calls to invite you to this photo shoot...)

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise at No. 1 (maybe) and see what else falls where; plus our NCAA bracket update (ugh), columns on Dolphins/Frank Gore and Wayne Huizenga & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Neveragain1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 26. So, so proud of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High whose anger and tears in the wake of last month's mass shooting led to Saturday's March For Our Lives that drew hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C. and millions to rallies nationwide. The movement to ban assault weapons has only just begun. 2) Happy 71st birthday on Sunday to a philanthropic giant and a man who has been such a vital part of my life's soundtrack: Elton John. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): R.I.P. Wayne Huizenga, our NCAA bracket update, your Who's-Next verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest column: The feel-good and the bad of Dolphins signing Frank Gore: It strikes all the right emotional chords, but it also is in keeping with a curious, troubling offseason for the Dolphins. To read our newest column, click Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason. (By the way, we had a snarky little Twitter poll inviting your reaction to last week's Fins signing of Gore and QB Brock Osweiler. More than 3,000 voted. The result was 26 percent voting "Super Bowl!" and 74% voting "Well, um, uh...") 

Other most recent columns: On Wayne Huizenga, Serena Williams, Canes QBs: A South Florida sports and civic giant dies. Click Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible / Serena returns from maternity leave in her home tournament and is quickly ousted by 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her. Click Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / And, can Malik Rosier hold onto Hurricanes' quarterback job? Click Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fire-Sale Fish and MLB: Winding down a mildly encouraging spring training, by which I mean they weren't awful, the decimated Marlins are three days from Opening Day this Thursday afternoon here vs. the Cubs. The big question: Will new boss Derek Jeter be a part of pregame ceremonies and risk being booed after trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a profit-first, baseball-second salary dump?

2. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA Tournament has its Final Four: It'll be No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 11 seed Loyola-Cinderella in the men's Final Four this Saturday after a five-day break. That's three superpowers and one reminder why we love March Madness so much.

3. WAYNE HUIZENGA: Influential sports owner dies at 80: The man who founded the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers and rescued the Miami Dolphins from financial calamity -- once owning all three teams concurrently -- died on Thursday. Huizenga was a giant in business and philanthropy and a major figure on the South Florida sports landscape in 1993-2008. R.I.P., good sir.

4. DOLPHINS: Curious offseason continues with Gore, Osweiler: The Dolphins' offseason is getting "curiouser and curiouser," as Lewis Carroll's Alice might say. Last week the team signed former Hurricanes star Frank Gore and then quarterback Brock Osweiler, which might not be too bad except that one is a soon-to-be 35-year-old running back and the other is Brock Osweiler. 

5. MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Parkland tragedy spawns massive rally: No, this has nothing to do with sports. It is much more important than that. Close to a million demonstrators against gun violence and for gun control were drawn to D.C. Saturday by last month's Parkland tragedy and the student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. I've seldom been prouder to be American. The best part? Didn't feel like a culmination. Felt like a beginning.

6. PANTHERS: Cats' win as playoff chase enters crunch time: Florida beat Arizona 4-2 led by Vincent Trocheck's two goals Saturday but remains three points off playoff pace with two games in hand. It's crunch time with nine games left, starting now with four straight on the road. Cats have been 19-7 since Jan. 30 but must close strong or the second-half rally will be for naught.

7. HEAT: Miami tumbles to 8th, awaits LeBron: Playoff-bound Heat now sit in 8th place in East after last night's OT loss at Indiana as the NBA regular season wanes. Now it's four straight home games starting Tuesday with a visit by LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers. Is LeBron back in Miami still a big thing? We'll likely see him in the playoffs, too -- if Miami can somehow inch up to the 6th seed. 

8. TENNIS: Crazy first week as Miami Open hits midpoint: No. 1 seeds Roger Federer and Simona Halep both were eliminated, and Serena Williams suffered a rare first-round ouster as the Miami Open turned quickly into a wide-open affair. Oh, and Caroline Wozniacki claimed she was verbally abused by the crowd. The tournament headed to Hard Rock Stadium next year isn't leaving Key Biscayne quietly ... or predictably.

9. HORSE RACING: Five days 'til Florida Derby at Gulfstream: Promises Fulfilled and Audible are among favorites in this coming Saturday's 67th running of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream. The next-to-last day of the track's Championship Meet will star a major Kentucky Derby prep race that will send one horse off to the Kentucky Derby with a tailwind.

10. SOCCER: Peru beats Croatia in Miami friendly: Holy Nene Cubillas! Peru is back in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, and looked ready Friday in beating Croatia 2-0 in a Miami friendly that drew 46,893 to The Rock. Both teams are in the 32-nation field for the summer World Cup in Russia. Alas, the U.S. is not, unless Trump can work something out with his pal Putin.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes spring football practice continues. Would you wake me in September when they start keeping score again? ..... Canes baseball is back up to .500 and goes for the sweep over No. 24 Virginia today. Just when I'm about to write off the season, UM says, "Wait a sec!" ..... Love that another spring football league is starting up one year ahead of Vince McMahon's planned XFL reboot. I'd put the over/under on either league succeeding at 1.5 seasons ..... The NFL winter meetings start Sunday in Orlando. This is where a bunch of rich guys get together, wring hands and do very little. It's a little like politics, in that way ..... UConn's dominance in women's basketball? Bor-ring! ..... By the way anybody know if the NIT tournament has ended? Or started?

Bracket VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: A BIG SUNDAY LIFTS US: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand tied for 24th entering the Final Four (up from 51st) after a perfect Sunday:

Day 9 / Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness will crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday in San Antonio: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 3 Michigan, and No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 1 Villanova. I have 'Nova winning it all.

Day 8 / Elite Eight -- Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. 

Day 7 / Elite Eight -- I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See previous blogposts for daily results preceding the Elite Eight round]

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 24, 2018

Wayne Huizenga, 1937-2018: My column on the passing of an epic life; plus Dolphins/Gore-Osweiler poll (vote now), our NCAA bracket update (more ouch), MSD March in D.C., Canes football anointed our next champ, my Serena column & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Time1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 24. Pictured: The new Time magazine cover as today's March For Our Lives takes place in D.C. -- spawned by the student activism in the wake of last month's mass shooting at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Power to the (young) people! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's-Next poll, latest Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Dolphins/Gore/Osweiler poll. Vote now!: Dolphins sign Frank Gore, now Brock Osweiler. Quite the week. Your thoughts. I have a new poll on my Twitter site. Go to @gregcote to vote now.

HwayneR.I.P.: WAYNE HUIZENGA, 1937-2018: A South Florida sports and civic giant passed away today at age 80. A titan as a businessman and philanthropist, Huizenga was best known as founding owner of the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers and also owner of the Miami Dolphins -- owning all three concurrently for much of the 1990s, a first in American sports. Click on Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible for my new column on his passing. (Click Do Not Vilify, Give Thanks for an earlier column on Huizenga I'd written in January).

Other most recent columns: On Serena Williams, Canes QBs, state of Dolphins: It was poignant to see the great Serena return, at 36, from maternity leave in her home tournament and quickly be ousted in straight sets by a 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her. To read that column: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company. Also, can Malik Rosier hold on to the Miami Hurricanes' starting quarterback job against tough competition?: Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation. And, the offseason struggles of that other team: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

Mmadness VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: HELP! I'M FAAAAADING!: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I tumbled further with Friday's results into a tie for 40th place. Amazing. From tied for second at one point to this. Sad:

Day 7 / Elite Eight -- I don' have a dog in the hunt in either of today's games, Loyola-Kansas State or Florida State-Michigan. My only two remaining teams, Villanova and Kansas, both play Sunday. 

Day 6 / Sweet 16 -- Correct on three of four games. As the march to the Elite Eight was completed last night, I desperately needed Villanova, Kansas and Purdue to all win, in that order of importance -- especially 'Nova, my national-champion pick. Well, I got 'Nova and Kansas, but it won't be enough. I got spanked by the Sweet 16. Overall for the tournament I have been correct on 40 of 56 games, or 71.4%.

Day 5 / Sweet 16 -- Correct on only one of four games as Sweet 16 play began Thursday after a three-day pause in March Madness. I had Michigan winning Thursday night's game but not getting to the Elite Eight on my bracket, so the pick did me no good. No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago (which slayed Miami) stayed alive as the tourney's official Cinderella, with underdogs Florida State and Kansas State also advancing. (ESPN says only 0.001% of all brackets have Loyola vs. K-State in their Elite Eight). Overall for the tournament thus far I have been correct on 37 of 52 games, or 71.2%.  

Day 4 / Round of 32 -- Correct on only three of eight games (37.5%) on a Bloody Sunday in which Cinderella went nuts. There were five by-seed upsets, including No. 1 Xavier falling to Florida State. Alas, one of the games that went according to form saw the UMBC fairy tale end. For tournament overall I've been correct on 36 of 48 games, or 75%. More than half of all in my pool, 68 of 131, already have seen their title-pick eliminated, led by Virginia with 22, North Carolina 16, Arizona 11 and Michigan State 10.

Day 3 / Round of 32 -- Correct on seven of eight games (87.5%), another big day, missing only on Loyola's upset of Tennessee. For the tournament overall I have now been correct on 33 of 40 games, or 82.5%.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip but still OK. Went two out of three on by-seed upsets, nailing No. 9 Kansas State over No. 8 Creighton and 9-Florida State over 8-Missouri, but missing on 10-Providence over 7-Texas A&M. Other misses: Like all of you, didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a stunner. Also missed on L's by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived Round of 64 with 26 teams still alive, or 81.3%. 

Day 1 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 14 of 16 games (87.5%). Very pleased. That includes two out of three on by-seed upset picks. Was right on No. 11-Loyola over No. 6-Miami (sorry, Canes fans) and 9-Alabama over 8-Virginia Tech. This just didn't feel like the March for Miami to make a run, as I wrote in this column. The upset misfire was 10-Oklahoma over 7-Rhode Island. Our only other miss: 13-Buffalo's bracket-busting stunner over 4-Arizona.

TheuPOLL RESULT: IT'S ON YOU, CANES FOOTBALL. YOU'RE OUR NEXT NATIONAL CHAMPION: We asked, "Which of South Florida's biggest pro sports teams is most likely to win a championship next?" We gave you seven choices, and Hurricanes football dominated with a majority of 61.14 percent. Next were the Florida Panthers at 15.63%, then David Beckham's as-yet-unborn MLS soccer team at 10.90% and the Miami Heat at 8.06%. The Miami Dolphins drew only 2.37%. The Miami Marlins and Canes men's basketball drew a negligible 0.95% each.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 21, 2018

Who's next? Which of South Florida's Big 7 teams is closest to being champion? Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Miami Open column on Serena loss, latest Back In My Day video (Handwriting!), Hurricanes QBs & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21. We'll be back with our NCAA Bracket updates when the Madness resumes on Thursday. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, my NCAA Bracket update, March Madness Haiku Challenge winner revealed & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

New: Column from Miami Open on today's loss by Serena Williams: To read, click Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company.

Other most recent columns: On Hurricanes' QB battle, state of Dolphins: The most intriguing question in South Florida sports right now is whether Malik Rosier will hold on to the Miami Hurricanes' starting quarterback  job against very tough competition. We have begun to find out as Tuesday opened a month of spring practice under the aegis of third-year coach Mark Richt. I explore the QB situation in my latest column after speaking with Richt just before spring sprang. To read that column click Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation. Our previous column was on the offseason struggles of Miami's pro football team. To read that one click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

WhoWHO'S UP? WHICH OF OUR BIG SPORTS TEAM WILL BE CHAMPION NEXT?: We like to do this poll every year or two (or when we think of it) as a pulse-read on how South Florida sports fans are feeling about their teams. The presumption behind is that we all might have a favorite team but nobody is a fan of only one sport. Chances are you have at least a casual awareness of even the teams you care about least. Anyway, usually this poll involves only what I call our Big Five teams -- the four main pro teams plus Hurricanes football. This time I've expanded by two,adding Canes men's basketball and David Beckham's Miami Major League Soccer franchise set to kick off in 2020. Vote as honestly as you are able, not for the team you hope wins the next championship, but for the team you genuinely feel is most likely to. Ready? Do it.

NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': HANDWRITING!: Our latest Back In My Day the gradual extinction of handwriting as now it's all emails and texts. Video includes the rare use of  a prop on the dismount:

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Can Hurricanes Answer The Doubters? / Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Fins Must Find Their Future / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 19, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins mighty battle for No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Match Madness update: My bracket still strong after Bloody Sunday and our Haiku Challenge winner; also, my newest column (Dolphins) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 19. Hope ya'll had a fun and safe St. Patrick's Day weekend! 2) Pleased to meet so many of you recently at the LeBatard Show event at J. Wakefield Brewing in Wynwood. Great place, great time, great people. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): My NCAA Bracket updates, March Madness Haiku Challenge, The List (UM hoops), new Back In My Day video & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HaikuWE HAVE A MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE WINNER!: Our blog's 13th annual Haiku Challenge drew a robust 128 entries this year, of which 80 qualified for consideration as proper haikus (17 syllables) and on topic. Our winning entry was from Michael DeFerrari. His haiku: "Winning a bracket / justifies my existence / picks don't fail me now." Judges appreciated the classic 5-7-5 structure, liked the simplicity and allusion to the disproportionate importance placed on winning, and were smitten by the apparent nod to the 1979 Herbie Hancock album and subsequent colloquialism, "Feets don't fail me now." (Michael, email me at gregcote@miamiherald.com and we'll work out a prize). Appreciation as well to honorable mention haikus from Jay Krupa, Trevor @trashmanT, Harrison Gillming, Marshall Aldrich, Garrick Piche, Rob Frye and Ryan Rodenhauser. Thanks to all who played! Haiku!

Latest column: On Dolphins scrambling to make up losses: This has been a rough offseason and free agency for the Miami Dolphins, led by the departures of much starpower in Ndamukong Suh, Jarvis Landry and Mike Pouncey. In my newest column, I pose the three questions that measure the state of the Dolphins. You might not like answers. To read, click Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES / MARCH MADNESS: Miami one and done as Sweet on deck: Your bracket busted yet? Chances are Bloody Sunday did it, with five upsets in eight games. Hurricanes men got bounced in their opener by Loyola-Chicago and UM women were ousted quick by Quinnipiac. The Madness pauses a few days now before resuming Thursday with the Sweet 16. Kansas and Villanova are the only No. 1s left, with Loyola and Syracuse (a play-in team) the double-digit-seed survivors in the Glass Slipper Division.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins busy as NFL free agency underway: Ndamukong Suh followed Jarvis Landry out the door, but Miami bagged two receivers in veteran Danny Amendola (from the Patriots) and young, fleet Albert Wilson. Fins are now talking about signing running back DeMarco Murray. Hmm, like defensive end Robert Quinn, whom they traded for, I'd be more excited about Miami getting Murray if this was, like, 2014. 

3. PANTHERS: Cats hit road as playoff fight intensifies: After Saturday's loss to Edmonton the Cats stand ninth in the jockeying for eight East playoff spots, now five points off pace but with three games in hand. Florida now plays seven of its next eight games on the road in a closing stretch that will likely determine whether the Stanley Cup playoffs invite South Florida or not.

4. HEAT: Miami sits pretty for playoffs, but can they climb?: Heat is a virtual lock to make NBA playoffs with a dozen games left. Only question is whether Miami can climb from 8th place for a more advantageous first-round draw. Fourth place and home-court advantage is only three games away, but it'd take a strong finishing kick starting Monday vs. Denver. 

5. TENNIS: Serena back as Miami Open begins: Not tired of brackets yet, are ya? The women's draw was Sunday and the men's is Monday as the Miami Open gets underway in its final iteration on Key Biscayne before (unfortunately) moving to Hard Rock Stadium in 2019. Simona Halep was seeded No.  1 but the big intrigue on the women's side will be how wild-card entry Serena Williams performs (starting Wednesday) in her first major tournament since maternity leave.

6. MARLINS: Fish say they want to hear from fans: Two-thirds through spring training the Marlins are a surprisingly decent 12-8-2 after Sunday's loss to the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton. Meanwhile, the club has started a "Dimelo Miami" gimmick, dimelo being Spanish for tell me. They want to hear from fans. Uh oh. Be careful what you wish for, Fire-Sale Fish.

7. UM FOOTBALL: Richt's Canes to open spring practice: Mark Richt's Hurricanes aim to restart the momentum when spring practice begins this Tuesday after last year's break-through 10-3 season that included ACC Championship Game and Orange Bowl appearances. Atop the spring watch list: In a quarterback competition flung wide open, Will Malik Rosier reaffirm himself as the starter?

8. SOCCER: Peru-Croatia in Miami for tuneup: I know a lot of Peruvians live in Miami. Not sure if we have a "Little Zagreb" section of town or not. Anyway, plenty of futbol fans will turn out this coming Friday night at The Rock for a World Cup tuneup friendly match. U.S. men sadly didn't qualify, so we take what we can get.

9. CANES BASEBALL: UM avoids being swept at Duke: Hurricanes beat Duke in Durham Sunday, 8-2, to avoid being swept by their ACC rival. Still been an uphill climb overall, though, for Miami, now 9-10, in Jim Morris' final season. If this is a team capable of reaching the College World Series, tick tock fellas, time to start showing it.

10. HORSE RACING: Florida Derby looms into view: Less than two weeks until the March 31 Florida Derby at Gulfstream, one of the last major prep races before the Kentucky Derby opens Triple Crown season. Still waiting for a superhorse and betting darling to emerge and capture imaginations. Maybe Hallandale Beach will be the stage?

Missing the HB10 cut: Once again the NIT is happening, and nobody is really sure why.

Mm ViitaleUPDATED. MY NCAA BRACKET: STILL REALLY SOLID, EVEN AFTER BLOODY SUNDAY
:
 We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and -- hard to believe -- even afgter Bloody Sunday, I stand tied for second place overall. And the leader's championship pick is, while mine (Villanova) is not, so I'm still well in this thing entering the Sweet 16:

Next / Sweet 16 -- After a three-day pause the Madness turns Sweet beginning Thursday. Kansas and Villanova are the only No. 1s left. With UMBC ousted, the designated Cinderellas left are 11-seeds Loyola-Chicago (which slayed Miami) and Syracuse, the latter off a play-in game. 

Day 4 / Round of 32 -- Correct on only three of eight games (37.5%) on a Bloody Sunday in which Cinderella went nuts. There were five by-seed upsets, including No. 1 Xavier falling to Florida State. Alas, one of the games that went according to form saw the UMBC fairy tale end. For the tournament as a whole I have been correct on 36 of 48 games, or 75%. (Updated: More than half of all in my pool, 68 of 131, already have seen their title-pick eliminated, led by Virginia with 22, North Carolina 16, Arizona 11 and Michigan State 10).

Day 3 / Round of 32 -- Correct on seven of eight games (87.5%), another big day, missing only on Loyola's upset of Tennessee. For the tournament overall I have been correct on 33 of 40 games, or 82.5%.

Day 2 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 12 of 16 games (75%), a dip from Day 1 but still not bad. Went two out of three on by-seed upsets, nailing No. 9 Kansas State over No. 8 Creighton and 9-Florida State over 8-Missouri, but missing on 10-Providence over 7-Texas A&M. Our other misses: Like all of you, I didn't see No. 1 Virginia losing in a stunner. Also missed on losses by Arkansas and Wichita State. Overall, survived the Round of 64 with 26 teams still alive, or 81.3%. 

Day 1 / Round of 64 -- Correct on 14 of 16 games (87.5%). Very pleased. That includes two out of three on by-seed upset picks. I was right on No. 11-Loyola over No. 6-Miami (sorry, Canes fans) and 9-Alabama over 8-Virginia Tech. This just didn't feel like the March for Miami to make a run, as I wrote in this column. The upset misfire was 10-Oklahoma over 7-Rhode Island. Our only other miss: 13-Buffalo's bracket-busting stunner over 4-Arizona.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Can Hurricanes Answer The Doubters? / Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? / Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season / Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History / As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests / Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Fins Must Find Their Future / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 12, 2018

Why do damned Dolphins keep giving away their best players!? New column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), can March Madness save the season, Haiku Challenge update & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Gang1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 12. I was pleased to meet so many fans at Saturday night's LeBatard Brothers 'Mas Miami' event at Blackbird Ordinary. Lots of fun, as suggested by the photo at right, in which I am surrounded by Dan LeBatard, his artist brother Dave (Lebo), Zoo Miami's Ron Magill and a lovely, photobombing fan of the show. Y'all are the best. Click on image to see enlarged version. 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Your verdict on Landry trade, Thrilling Thursday in SoFla sports, intimate portrait of Ichiro & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Why do the damned Dolphins keep giving away their best players?: First Ajayi, then Landry, now Suh. The Dolphins curiously keep parting with their best players. I explore in my newest column. To read, click Why Do Dolphins Keep Giving Away Their Best Players? Also, the ongoing FBI probe into corruption has scandalized this men's college basketball season and shadowed dozens of schools, Miami included. That is why Selection Sunday arrived as medicine for the sport. For that column, click Canes, NCAA Need March Madness To Save The Season.

HaikuMarch Madness Haiku Challenge advisory!: Our blog's 13th annual March Madness Haiku Challenge is ready to unveil, because other than peanut butter and jelly what goes together better than American college basketball and Japanese short-form poetry! We'll unveil entry details and rules right here on Tuesday morning, so prepare to get creative in 17 syllables for your chance at a (not so) fabulous prize!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Selection Sunday sets NCAA bracket: Gentlemen (and ladies), start your brackets! Selection Sunday set the field for the men's NCAA Tournament, with the women's field coming Monday. Villanova is the early betting favorite to win it all, followed by Duke and Virginia. The onset of March Madness means you'll spend the next three weeks pretending to work while sneaking peeks at your smartphone for scores and at your bracket for holes. Do like me. Assume your bracket will suck. It makes the eventual disappointment easier to take.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins trade Landry for not much in return: Jay Ajayi, now this. Dolphins keep giving away talent as if talent weren't the whole point. Miami is trading productive but soon-to-be-pricey slot receiver Jarvis Landry, arguably its most popular player, to the Browns in exchange for fourth- and seventh-round draft picks. If this trade were a football score, I think Cleveland just beat the Dolphins around 31-13. 

3. HURRICANES: UM men get No. 6 seed, face Loyola: Canes men were a cinch for selection to the NCAA Tournament, but hardly made their case for a high seed in a one-and-done ACC Tournament performance and lopsided loss to North Carolina. The UM women did better in the ACCs (1-1) and also are sure to make the NCAAs. Question is whether either Miami team can win a couple of games from here and make it interesting. UM men open Thursday vs. Loyola-Chicago in Dallas and are scant 1- to 3-point favorites.

4. PANTHERS: Ice on fire! Hot Cats skating toward playoffs: The crazy-hot Panthers' 4-3 OT win over the Rangers Saturday night marked Florida's franchise-record eighth straight home win and 15th in the past 19 games overall. Cats still are two points off playoff pace but with three games in hand. Bottle the team we've seen the past five or six weeks and this would be a Stanley Cup contender. 

5. HEAT: Can Miami climb to fourth in East?: The deep-bench Heat put eight men in double figures in walloping Washington 129-102 at home Saturday night for a second straight win. Miami remains in seventh place in the East but is only 2 1/2 games from fourth with 15 games to go in regular season. Team has been erratic but finds ways to keep you believing. Meanwhile Dwyane Wade visited Stoneman Douglas High and gotten behind the gun-control fight. Could Miami love this guy any more? 

6. GOLF: Tiger finishes second as comeback accelerates: Tiger Woods finished second Sunday, one shot back, in the PGA Tour stop at Valspar. There's been much debate whether we should regard Tiger as all-the-way "back." Coming close here was a big step. A great Masters in April would be bigger.

7. MARLINS: Booo! Stanton no-show for Marlins-Yankees: Fish are a solid 10-5-1 at the midsection of spring training -- surprising, considering low expectations for the team. (In fact MLB players union boss Tony Clark blasted the club this week for breaking apart a competitive team. Hallelujah. Yes they did!) Marlins beat Yankees 7-5 Sunday but Giancarlo Stanton did not make the trip to Jupiter. Not cool, Mike. Not cool.

8. CANES BASEBALL: Signs of life as ACC play begins: UM still is only 7-8 overall in Jim Morris' final season but showed signs of life by taking two out of three over Notre Dame in Canes' start of ACC play, missing out on a sweep in the second game of a Saturday doubleheader.

9. TENNIS: Miami Open begins next week: The final Miami Open on Key Biscayne (before moving to Hard Rock Stadium) begins next week, running March 19-April 1. Rafael Nadal dropping out was a big blow but otherwise the men and women's field is strong, and includes fan favorite Serena Williams' return from maternity. Serena is so good, you get the feeling she could win the tournament even if she played while nursing.

10. UM FOOTBALL: Richt preparing for spring practice: UM spring practice opens next week, March 20, and all eyes will be on the quarterback position as incumbent Malik Rosier attempts to fend off the competition and keep his job. If the battle is that close, though, chances are the fight will seep into fall.

Missing the HB10 cut: Giants star receiver Odell Beckham could be in trouble after a leaked video showing him in bed with a woman and with lines of white powdery substance visible. Who's he think he is, a Dolphins offensive line coach!?

OUR MOST RECENT COLUMNS:  Our columns from the past week: Heat, Panthers, Canes Gunning For History  /  As Dolphins' Owner Wrestles With Anthem-Kneeling, A Player Shows A Way Beyond Protests  /  Don't Shut Up, Get Louder  /  Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  /  With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing  /  Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade  /  Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 05, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A new No. 1 not used to being there, and see what else falls where; plus our APSE-winning columns, Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 5. Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ranking Miami's Top 25 Sports Figures for 2018, thank you APSE & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest column: Ranking Miami's 2018 Top 25 Sports Figures: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from those answers and more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. PANTHERS: Six straight! Cats surging toward playoff pace: The HB10 doesn't often smile this much on the Panthers, but they've been as good as any team in NHL the past five weeks, winning 13 of the past 16 games including six straight after Sunday's 4-1 win over Philly in a home matinee. Florida is today one only one point off playoff pace but with three games in hand. Cats failed to make a trade-deadline deal, but apparently no help is needed, thanks.

2. HURRICANES: UM men open ACC tourney; women out: Jim Larranaga's Cardiac Canes ended regular season with four straight wins by three points or less to finish 22-8 entering the men's ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. UM opens Thursday night vs. winner of North Carolina  vs. Syracuse or Wake Forest. Meanwhile Katie Meier's Canes women followed a 20-9 season with a 1-1 ACC run, beating Wake Forest then being eliminated by Florida State. Both UM teams should get an NCAA Tournament invite, the men more assuredly.

3. DOLPHINS: Combine, Landry, Quinn fill busy week: With top receiver Jarvis Landry hot on the trading block, Miami dealt a 4th-round draft pick to the Rams for starting-caliber defensive end Robert Quinn. Meantime the NFL Scouting Combine in Indy wrapped up this weekend with coach Adam Gase giving incumbent QB Ryan Tannehill a strong vote of confidence ... and Dolfans left to wonder if that's a good thing.

4. HEAT: Miami gets lift from homestand: Miami hardly seemed a playoff team in that defenseless 131-113 home loss to the Lakers but is 3-1 on this homestand. As Heat hosted its annual Family Fest for fans on Sunday, team had lost nine of its past 12 before beating Detroit here Saturday -- the team chasing Miami for that eighth and last East playoff spot. Heat is erratic but it appears depth will earn a postseason ticket.

5. MARLINS: Hot spring so far for Fish: Little is expected this season of the Fire-Sale Fish, but they're 6-3-1 this spring entering Monday. I know. It's meaningless. A mirage. A dream. Still, um, can we start the playoffs right now!? 

6. HORSE RACING: Big upset in Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream:  Quite a spring for the Hallandale Beach track. The Pegasus World Cup just ran and the Florida Derby is coming; now, Sunday brought the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a Kentucky Derby prep race highlighted by 7-5 betting pick Good Magic. Alas, 18-1 longshot Promises Fulfilled led wire to wire to cast the Derby picture into unfocused confusion.

7. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Six days 'til Selection Sunday: Brackets ready? March Madness will be upon us in six days, after this week's conference tournament results dole out automatic bids and let the bubble teams make their case.

8. ALY RAISMAN: Olympic gymnast sues over Nassar scandal: Gold-medalist Aly Raisman is suing the U.S. Olympics Committee and USA Gymnastics over the Dr. Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. Right on! This will settle, because there's no way those two shamed groups will want to endure further shame in open court. 

9. SOCCER: MLS in Miami, yes, but where still in doubt: Major League Soccer's 23rd season began this week. Miami will have an expansion team in the 25th. But where will team's permanent home be? Overtown as assumed? A larger site in Doral? Somewhere else? If David Beckham doesn't even know, we sure can't.

10. UM BASEBALL: Canes face rival FIU, begin ACC play this week: Slow-starting UM is 5-6 after two straight wins, but the season gets interesting starting this week. Wednesday the Canes visit rival FIU, then host Notre Dame in a series launching the ACC schedule. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Well, [bleep], I made the national Top 10 in column writing from the Associated Press Sports Editors this week, a pretty big deal in the sports journalism biz, and if Greg Cote can't brag in his own damned blog, where can he  brag!? ..... When do the Winter Olympics start? In South Korea, right? ..... Jerry Jones vs. Roger Goodell. Any way they can both lose? ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "New manager Dave Martinez had a trio of camels brought to Nationals spring training to help players get over franchise playoff hump" ..... And another: "J.R. Smith threw soup at a Cavaliers assistant coach." What a terrible waste of soup! ..... Keep doing what you're doing, Stoneman Douglas survivors and other students. Show us the way. The world is watching.

ICYMI: OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: These were the five submitted 2017 columns that earned us a Top 10 national designation from the Associated Press Sports Editors:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional recent columns: For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing. Also: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Others: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 03, 2018

Ranking Miami/SoFla's Top 25 Sports Figures in 2018. New column!; plus thank you, APSE: 3 ways I'm grateful, and 1 reason it doesn't matter; also, Magic City for one night & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's SATURDAY, MARCH 3. Happy to be done with sad February. Welcome, new month! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our Fins At 50 book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): This is week Dolphins must find their future, latest Back In My Day video (Uber!) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

DwadeRANKING MIAMI/SOFLA'S 2018 TOP 25 SPORTS FIGURES: I last did one of these in late 2015 and man has a lot changed around here in two-plus years. Does Dwyane Wade hang on to No. 1? Where do newcomers Derek Jeter and David Beckham land? Who's the top Dolphin? You're a click away from all of those answers and many more. For the column and full list, click Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018.

Our most recent other columns:  For One Night: Magic City  /  Fins Must Find Their Future  /  Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed  /  Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season  /  Will You Make The Leap Of Faith The Marlins Are Asking? And our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing.

THANK YOU, APSE: THREE WAYS I'M GRATEFUL, AND ONE REASON IT DOESN'T MATTER: Yesterday the Associated Press Sports Editors completed its annual contest judging, and look who turned up as Top 10 in column writing. Yep, me. The five columns the Miami Herald entered for me are listed below. I'd like to tell you three reasons why I'm honored by this, and one reason why it doesn't matter:

Apse(*) I'm honored because the APSE awards are to written sports journalism what the Oscars are to actors. It's national. It's the big prize. And in my case, the Miami Herald is in the major-outlet category (over-175,000 circulation), and so our competition is the likes of the New York Times, Boston Globe, USA Today, L.A. Times and ESPN.com. It was me against the giants, so it pleases me to be placed in their company. (By the way, I laughed out loud the first time I saw on Twitter that, in my case, some joked that they thought "over 175,000" was an age category. Funny!).

(*) I'm honored because variety is the thing I like most about my job. I have been a beat writer who covers the same team every day, and, for me, it got boring. Column writing presents me a blank palette, more freedom to roam. I go for variety in my subject matter, and so it was very pleasing to me that of the five 2017 columns chosen by my boss to enter in the contest, none were standard Dolphins/Heat/UM football fare. All were off the beaten path to a degree.

(*) And I'm honored because the columns of mine that got me in the top 10 offer a little bit of a lesson, I think, for the evolving newspaper business, which, in its increasing and understandable emphasis on the digital product over the print product, is increasingly obsessed with writing only stuff that generates a lot of online "clicks," and eliminating subject matter that does not. I think most of my five winning columns were probably not click monsters, but resonated very much with those who did read them. Sometimes, that still needs to be enough.

(*) Now, why it doesn't matter is because of the capriciousness of contests and judging, the randomness of it. I have always believed that about writing awards; now I can say it without it sounding like sour grapes. There is no validation here. I have had better years and better columns, but got lucky that these five happened to resonate with enough judges who liked them. Hundreds of sports writers who've never been handed a plaque are doing good work every year, every day. Keep it up, brothers and sisters, because it's always about readers, not judges.

Thanks to all of our readers, listeners, followers, clickers and thinkers -- especially those loyal long-timers. Now here are the five 2017 columns that happened to win for me:

March 1: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing.

April 22: Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose.

May 15: NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering.

July 24: What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer.

October 1: With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: UM Morally Right, But Will the Force (Majeure) Be With Them? LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami. Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night / Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 / Welcome Home, D.Wade. Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerNo Way to Escape Her ShameThe Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksWade Will End Where He BelongsRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2018

The new 'Back In My Day' video (Strange Signs!); plus LeBron wins in Cavs' mega-trade, but Heat won, too. My column; also, latest Hot Button Top 10, our D.Wade welcome-back trilogy, your Winter Olympics verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13. The Dolfans in your life may not know it yet, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our ultimate franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane Wade returns to Heat, rating Hurricanes' Top 10 recruits, Winter Olympics poll & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

THE NEW 'BACK IN MY DAY': STRANGE SIGNS!: The latest installment in our BIMD series, from today's LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNU:

LEBRON FLEXED HIS POWER AND WON AGAIN ... BUT SO DID THE HEAT: As usual, in-charge LeBron James won big in last week's Cleveland Cavaliers mega-trade. He gets a better team for another run to the NBA Finals. He gets a few months to decide if it's good enough to make him stay. And as a bonus he gets to put a smile on best buddy Dwyane Wade's face. My latest column: Click LeBron Wins In Latest Power Play, But So Does Miami to read.

Wade3HOMECOMING: THE DWYANE WADE TRILOGY: Dwyane Wade's sudden, unexpected and warmly received return to the Miami Heat by trade this week delighted South Florida. The news was all-ways good. Good for Wade. Good for the Heat. Good for Miami and its fans. Good from an emotional view. And good from a basketball standpoint, too. I responded to the big reunion with three columns: ICYMI, click Only 3 Points, But He Owned The Night for my column from the arena Friday night as emotion and applause enveloped No. 3. Click Heat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 for my middle column on role Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra envision. And click Welcome Home, D.Wade for my initial column reacting to Thursday's trade.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. HEAT: Dwyane Wade returns!: It wasn't a basketball game it was a love-in as Dwyane Wade returned to the Heat after 1 1/2 seasons away and estranged from the club. He scored only three points in his homecoming game but it sounded like 30 as Miami fans showed No. 3 the love. Welcome back, D.Wade. After all, the 3-0-5 starts with what number again?

2. HURRICANES: Mark Richt, UM score top-10 recruiting class: Canes football scored a National Signing Day bounty of 23 players that was ranked No. 8 in the nation by both ESPN and recruiting bible 247sports.com. That's the good news. The bad? One of the schools ranked even higher is the powerhouse team UM must catch in the ACC: Clemson.

3. MARLINS: Decimated Fish prepare to open spring training: The Marlins held their annual FanFest at the stadium Saturday, although we'd call it SadFest after a Derek Jeter fire sale that plundered the roster of its four biggest stars. Now spring training in Jupiter begins this Wednesday with pitchers and catchers reporting. The season outlook is bleak. And that's the positive spin.

4. OLYMPICS: Winter Games underway in South Korea: Curling, skeleton, frostbite -- all of the wintry sports we love are back as the world competes in Pyeongchang. U.S. speedskater Shani Davis skipped the Opening Ceremony after losing a coin flip to be flag bearer. Ah, sportsmanship! 

5. PANTHERS: Erratic Cats still a playoff longshot: Florida has won four of its past five games as it begins a five-game road trip tonight in Edmonton, but the recent hot streak -- OK, tepid, at least -- has not repaired the season outlook. The Panthers are nine points off playoff pace and will need one of Al Michaels' miracles on ice to reach the NHL postseason.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Canes prepare to host No. 2 Virginia: Jim Larranaga's guys can't stand good fortune. They finally climb back into the Top 25 and then lose one they shouldn't  have to Boston College Saturday. Now they host No. 2 Virginia on Tuesday in a gauge-game that will tell us how good the 18-6 Hurricanes really are.

7. SOCCER: Miamian elected president of U.S. Soccer: Carlos Cordeiro, 61, of Miami Beach, was named new president of U.S. Soccer, and is the first Hispanic in the role. Considering the U.S. men's national team men just embarrassingly failed to qualify for this summer's World Cup, he has his work cut out. 

8. NBA: Countdown 6 days 'til All-Star Game: The NBA All-Star Game is next Sunday in Los Angeles, and it'll be Team LeBron James vs. Team Steph Curry in a game sure to include no defense whatsoever. Last year the Western Conference won, 192-182, the highest-scoring ASG ever. The Washington Generals play better D against the Harlem Globetrotters.

9. UM BASEBALL: Jim Morris' final season on deck: Opening Day for Canes baseball is this coming Friday, and it's the final season for longtime coach Jim Morris before retiring. Last year UM's decades-long streak of NCAA Tournament appearances ended. Let's see if Morris can fashion a proper exit for himself. Omaha, anyone?

10. TENNIS: Serena commits to Miami Open: The tournament starts March 19 in its final time on Key Biscayne before moving to Hard Rock Stadium, and the top men and women in the world will be here. That will include new mom Serena Williams in her first major tournament since giving birth five months ago. She could play while holding the baby and still win. 

Missing the HB10 cut: The new NASCAR season begins next Sunday with the Daytona 500. Emotional highlight? How about the final Daytona ride for Danica Patrick? Few athletes have ever been more popular with less winning. That's a compliment. Sort of ..... Everybody seems to think the Patriots dynasty is finished. Well, I should say everybody except the millions whose early bets on next season have made New England the Super Bowl favorite. Again ..... Philadelphia held its championship parade for the Eagles. Really slow parade, though, because all of the players were riding in overturned cars ..... Boston sportswriter Ron Borges catching a lot of heat by being duped into a false story. How about a little heat, please, for the idiot who perpetrated the hoax? ..... There will be a Monster Jam truck event next weekend at Marlins Park. Those are the stupid-big trucks on enormous tires that bounce over dirt hills, the curious popularity of the event verifying what P.T. Barnum said about there being a sucker born every minute.

POLL RESULT: INTEREST IN WINTER OLYMPICS IS LUKEWARM: We asked what best describes your interest level in the Winter Olympics, and results were widely split. It was 35.58 percent "moderate," 30.77% "low," 20.19% "uninterested" and 13.46% "keen." That's low-or-non edging keen-to-moderate by 50.96% to 49.04%.

Select other recent columns: Richt Building Something Big & Something To Last. Dear Canton: Call Zach. 7-7-7. Also: The Historic Super Bowl the NFL NeedsExploring Dolphins' QB QuandaryFarewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamA Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins PegasusThe Upside Of a Fire SaleAppreciating Wayne HuizengaWhen Victims Seize The PowerAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameCanes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 29, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise No. 1, and see what else falls where; plus my Pegasus World Cup column, our Wondrous Weekend, Marlins reboot has a face now & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, JANUARY 29. The Dolfans in your life don't know it, but they need this. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check out Fins At 50, our franchise history book. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins trade Yelich but get Brinson, Hoffman 5th (sort of) Marlin in Hall, appreciation of Brady/Patriots run, your will/want Super Bowl verdicts & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GerouxLatest column: On the $16 Million Pegasus at Gulfstream: Variety is a favorite part of my job, and leaving the comfort zone for different columns. My latest is one. Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus. Pictured is the winning jockey I write about, and the father he recently lost. Other most recent columns: The Upside Of a Fire Sale (on Lewis Brinson becoming the face of the Marlins' reboot). Appreciating Wayne Huizenga. And When Victims Seize The Power (on the Larry Nassar/USA Gymnastics trial).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. SOCCER: Finally! Miami MLS team becomes official: It took four years, wrangling over a stadium site, changing financial backers and machete’ing through political red tape, but David Beckham at last is set to announce today/Monday that a Major League Soccer expansion team in Miami is officially a reality. All along, of course, that’s been the goooooaaaaalllll!!!

2. MARLINS: Fish continue fire sale, deal Yelich: Now all but a minor-league team, the Marlins continued their fire sale reboot by trading Christian Yelich to Brewers. The good news? They got an elite prospect in return in CF Lewis Brinson, who played at Coral Springs High. He said he was thrilled to be a Marlin, which alone distinguishes him from the vast majority.

3. HORSE RACING: Gun Runner wins Pegasus at Gulfstream: Eleven horses including favorite and winner Gun Runner ran Saturday in Hallandale for a $16 million purse in second annual Pegasus World Cup, the globe’s richest horse race — a purse more than triple the combined payout of Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Mamas, do let your babies grow up to be jockeys. (Click on A Heart Both Broken And Soaring Wins Pegasus for my column from the race).

4. NFL: Pro Bowl begins countdown to Super Bowl: Pro Bowl was Sunday in Orlando, the all-star game every player wants to be chosen for but nobody really wants to play in, and few fans care about watching. Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry played as AFC won 24-23. It began the seven-day countdown to next Sunday's Big Event: TV commercials vying to see which is best in a competition unfortunately interrupted by a football game.

5. HEAT: All-Star snub slights Miami: Heat had lost four of past six before Saturday's win over Charlotte but hang onto fourth place in the conference as they embark on a four-game roadie. Miami is the first top-four Eastern Conference team in 25 years to not have a player in NBA All-Star Game. It’s one more reason we know who the team’s real star is. It’s Erik Spoelstra.

6. TENNIS: Federer, Wozniacki win Aussie titles: It was Roger Federer over Marin Cilic for the men's crown and his 20th major Sunday at the Australian Open after Caroline Wozniacki on Saturday made the year's first major her first Grand Slam title by beating Simona Halep. Those were either the tournament's four best players, or the only four to survive the searing heat.

7. NHL: Barkov reps Cats in All-Star game: With Sasha Barkov as Florida's lone player in it, the 63rd NHL All-Star Game skated Sunday evening in Tampa. It was again the 3-on-3 tournament format introduced in 2016, with teams repping the four divisions playing in semifinals to reach the main game. No, it could not be any more confusing.

8. RUNNING: Miami Marathon happened while you slept: More than 20,000 runners competed Sunday in the annual Miami Marathon & Half Marathon, which began at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. You've never heard of the winners, so what's the point of saying them? Once again I meant to compete, but an utter lack of interest and ambition got in the way.

9. SENIOR BOWL: Dolphins there scouting for draft: It was North vs. South on Saturday in Mobile, AL, with Canes Braxton Berrios and Michael Badgley among participants. Dolphins were among NFL teams scouting the annual all-star game with April's NFL Draft in mind. Um, Baker Mayfield, anyone? 

10. LARRY NASSAR: USA Gymnastics doctor will die in jail: USA Gymnastics predator/doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually molesting dozens of girls and women under the guise of treatment. People who feel sorry for him will be meeting in that phone booth over there. Plenty of room left.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Marlins president David Samson is running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days beginning Tuesday in a continuing effort to get as far from Jeffrey Loria as he possibly can ..... Canes men's basketball, 5-5 since a 10-0 start, fell at Florida State Saturday. So that return to the Top 25 continues on indefinite hold ..... The XFL, one and done in 2001, is being brought back for a 2020 startup by WWE boss Vince McMahon. But it won't be gimmicky this time. Said the man who runs pro wrestling (!) ..... If sports gambling is legalized, the NBA wants in on the profits. Or what? Refuse to play? ..... The Marlins' expanded protective netting is expected to prevent injuries. Unfortunately, it will not prevent losses ..... He won't come close to winning, but at Torrey Pines in California Tiger Woods made a PGA Tour cut for the first time since 2015 to begin his 743rd attempted comeback from back issues ..... Answer: The Packers rehired Joe Philbin as offensive coordinator. Question: Why do people get the idea Green Bay is in decline? ..... It was Celtics-Warriors Saturday in a possible NBA Finals preview, Golden State winning 109-105. Needed a Boston win to at least pretend Warriors might be fallible ..... Countdown: 12 days 'til the Winter Olympics. Curling! Skeleton!
 

WE DECLARE IT A WONDROUS WEEKEND TO BE A SPORTS FAN IN SOUTH FLORIDA!: Periodically we declare a special day or weekend to be a sports fan in South Florida, and this is 

Senior bowl Pegasus Marathon Probowl Nhl asgone. The chronology of why: Saturday we had the Senior Bowl from Mobile, AL, featuring Hurricanes WR Braxton Berrios and PK Michael Badgley. UM men's basketball played at Florida State. The $16 million Pegasus World Cup ran at Gulfstream, with Gun Runner winning. The Heat hosted and beat Charlotte. (And it was Boston-Golden State in a possible NBA Finals preview). On Sunday, the Miami Marathon got running before you awakened, at 5:45 a.m. The NFL Pro Bowl is at 3 in Orlando, including Dolphins Reshad Jones and Jarvis Landry. And the NHL All-Star Game is at 6 in Tampa, with Sasha Barkov repping the Florida Panthers. And that's not to mention Australian Open tennis' championship weekend.  Yes, I am fully aware that the five big events whose logos are pictured here (and maybe tennis, too) are likely of very little interest to many of you. Hey, quit being so picky! Enjoy!

Select other columns: For Dolphins, Hope and Frustration in Final FourAnd Barkov Shall Lead ThemNo Way to Escape Her ShameAre the Fins Feeling Bold? Also: Canes' Late Swoon, OB Loss Don't Erase the Progress. Where The Swagger Was BornStanton Had All the Power -- And Used ItDo We Trust Jeter To Fix Marlins?Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The DayA QB, a Crisis & a Father's Love. The Hurricanes Are Back; Deal With It, AmericaThe Godfather SpeaksJeter Betting On JeterHope That Wasn't GoodbyeWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote